Note: if you prefer a quick visual version, check out the photo gallery of my trip. And also see my unique and occasionally hilarious Great Signs of L.A. gallery too. (For a brief explanation of why I was here, check out my last post.) Descending into Los Angeles, I was reminded why I do, in fact, detest flying. Or, perhaps, why I’m hopelessly neurotic. The plane headed downward at what seemed like an alarmingly steep angle – especially considering that the airport was nowhere in sight. Suddenly I became aware of an insistent ringing/beeping sound floating through the air. It continued as we kept plunging downward, buildings and shops rising toward us. I felt my heart pound in my chest. The beeping continued. Were we headed pell-mell for a fiery doom? If we were, I felt sure there would be no warning, as we all sat there in a false cloud of security, purposefully kept in the dark by an invisible yet no-doubt frantic crew. We circled dizzily. I clutched my armrest and prepared myself for my fate. Then, like a gift from above, I spotted a runway over on the left. My fate, it turned out, was to land precisely on time and without incident at LAX. As we landed, I breathed for about the first time in ten minutes. In the airport, I spotted Alex by the baggage carousels, and he drove us straight over to the filming location. It was a half-hour slog through heavy traffic, a hot wind blowing at us through the rolled-down windows as we chatted away enthusiastically. Finally, we arrived at our destination, which was not quite what I expected: an old, brick warehouse in an industrial district. Now, normally, arriving in a strange city and being driven to a dusty, isolated warehouse by someone you’ve just met could be a disconcerting experience. But before I could reflect on that, we were met by Jerry Wolfe, the sound man, and Jon Tucker, the cinematographer, and it was clear that this was just business as usual for an independent film project. Jerry was an older, solidly-built man with a low-key but affable demeanour who very much resembled James Doohan – Scotty from “Star Trek”. Jon was a young, earnest and engaging fellow with a mop of shaggy hair and Austin Powers- style thick, black-framed glasses. Jon rolled up the big garage door and we headed into a large, dim, high-ceilinged space that offered cool relief from the sweltering day. In the middle was a cluster of equipment – camera, lights, assorted gear and a large sky-blue painted backdrop. Alex had brought some snacks, but when it became clear that something a little more substantial was needed, he dashed out to Quizno’s and came back with a hearty lunch for all of us. Finally, at about 1:30, they were ready. Jerry rigged me up with a clip-on mike, I settled onto the stool with the lights and camera aimed at me, and then Alex and I had a good hour-and-a-half chat about Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme. I spoke about how the film sparked my interest in the real-life murder case and the people involved; the great feedback I’d gotten and connections I’d made thanks to the Heavenly Creatures website I built with facts and background about the film and the real story; and discussed a variety of issues surrounding the case. Though I had to restart a couple of my answers, overall I felt I was coherent, well-spoken and managed to make some good points in response to Alex’s thoughtful questions. Our work done, Alex drove me to the hotel, a bit of a drive over to Glendale and the Embassy Suites Hotel. I expected nothing more than a plain, reasonably comfortable room, but this place was amazing! It had a dramatic inside atrium with half of the suites facing in on it. A pond with Japanese Koi fish filled the lobby centre, and rising up dramatically behind it was a bank of glass elevators. The hotel was only recently opened, and had a rich, deluxe yet whimsical design. The room was spacious and luxuriant, with separate bedroom and living room / writing desk areas. I kind of wished I’d be spending more time here, but it wasn’t to be – by the time I checked in and got to the room, I only had 20 minutes to rest before Alex was to return and take me to dinner, and then to meet Mark and Miki. I drifted off for a few precious minutes – my only sleep since the 4 1/2 hours I’d had the previous night. Then it was off and running again! On my suggestion, we went to Canter’s Delicatessen on Fairfax Avenue, arriving about 5. When Christine and I ate here in July, I never imagined that a mere two months later, I’d have the chance to return. And I was so delighted to be back! The perfectly unchanged 50’s decor; the vast menu with sandwiches named after Danny Thomas and Bob Hope; the outstanding and incredibly filling food. And the Jewish delicatessen atmosphere that so reminds me of similar places in Toronto or Montreal that I visited with my parents and grandparents when I was little. I reveled in a warm and happy blanket of nostalgia, while my stomach revelled in smoked meat, pastrami and jumbo pickles. Finally it was time to head for Mark and Miki’s place. Though they’re only a block from the heart of the Sunset Strip with its hip and flashy nightclubs and trendy restaurants, their place was a tranquil and supremely charming oasis. It’s a row of storybook cottages, reached by a footpath through a beautiful garden full of nooks and crannies. Their home was equally delightful, a cozy little two-level place decorated with all kinds of fun art and retro kitsch as well as tons of books. We drove through the pulsing neon and nightlife of Sunset Boulevard and arrived at The Complex, a funky little place with two small screening-room-size theatres. The event: Horrible Movie Night. Here, a couple who were friends of Mark and Miki would be showing a cheesy 80’s horror film, and the audience was encouraged to make fun of it by shouting out wiscracks at the screen, in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The hosts had originally held similar events at their home; this was only their second attempt at a public version. Soon the lobby was filled with a creative, friendly crowd. You could tell that they all knew each other and the vibe was fun and sociable. I felt much more at home here than I would’ve among the trendy glitterati of the Strip. Everone was very nice and easy to talk to. The movie was an absolute delight. It was a dream come true to be in a crowd full of people all encoraged to do what I usually get flak for – shouting out jokes and sarcastic comments at the screen! There were lots of sharp, hilarious barbs. There were also lots of comments that really showed it was a film industry crowd: when a scene had a sluggish, dialogue-free start, someone would shout “aaand… action!”. Of course, every time we saw a group looking for the killer, someone called out, “let’s split up!”. But there was even more to the evening – an intermission where an improv group did some hilarious sketches “inspired” by the film. It was all so fun, with unique “only in LA” aspects, and in the company of friends, that I can’t imagine a more perfect evening’s entertainment. It was now 10pm and although it was a Saturday night in LA, all I wanted to do was get to my hotel room and collapse into a warm bed, and get a good night’s sleep. Well, OK, there was one last stop I had to make, especially since it was right on our way – a milkshake at Mel’s Diner! It’s another of my favourite retro LA hangouts. Tonight, unlike my last daylight visit, there was valet parking, and it was not optional – even though there were spaces aplenty right in front of us. Strange to me, but hey – that’s LA! It was 11:45 when I finally found myself back in my room, where I quickly sank into a blissful slumber after an extraordinarily unique, and rather surreal, day.